As an ancient, flowering plant with origins all over the world, okra has several more names: gombo, bamia or bamya in France; bhindi in India, quibombo in Spain and simply “bamies” in the Mediterranean and Middle East. It was probably brought to the Southern U.S. by slaves from West Africa, who often used it to thicken soups.5 In fact, this plant does require balmy temperatures to thrive, as previously noted. Here Dr. Joseph Mercola, Mercola.com, reflects on whether okra can help control hunger and diabetes:
“What vegetable looks like a cross between a jalapeno, a mini cucumber and a star fruit, has enjoyed a long Southern tradition and was recently found to provide some really incredible benefits for your health? If your answer was okra, you get a thumbs-up, and if you or someone you care about struggles with their blood sugar, not to mention bouts of hunger that only exacerbates their blood sugar woes, listen up.
But first, a little okra history: Also called “ladyfingers,” and closely related to both cotton and hibiscus, okra comes in more than one variety, so it can be tinged with red and have either a smooth or a rough and even prickly texture.
A favorite in the American South and areas of Africa and the Mediterranean, where it's usually cooked to reveal a slimy texture, there are (fortunately) serving alternatives; five possibilities, with a few twists, are inspired by Smithsonian Magazine:1
- Fried okra is the traditional Southern way of serving okra, involving corn meal and so-called “vegetable oils,” but it's not the healthiest. If you choose to eat fried okra, at least be sure you use a healthy cooking oil (mentioned below), perhaps with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese added, and cook it at a lower temperature.
- Gumbo with okra2 for taste and as a thickening agent with the obligatory “holy trinity” of bell pepper, onion and celery is a Southern staple. In fact, the African name “gombo” is where the recipe was derived. It's often mixed with meat, tomatoes and bay leaves.
- Pickled okra,3 especially the sweet and spicy variety, is another way to serve this little pod, often with dried chilies, black peppercorns, mustard seeds, hot peppers, vinegar, fresh dill, salt and rice wine vinegar.
- Grilled or oven-roasted okra4 can be as simple as dousing clean, quartered okra pods with olive oil and sprinkling them with salt and pepper on a baking sheet, then cooking for 15 minutes. The best part: It's not slimy and actually becomes partially caramelized.
- Stewed okra is a great way to add the nutrients but with stronger-flavored flavors, such as beef broth, lamb, balsamic vinegar, cloves, tomato paste, garlic, mint leaves and spices, like in the case of banya,5 an Egyptian meat and okra stew.
It should be noted that far healthier oils than the standard fare include coconut oil, avocado oil, organic grass fed raw butter, ghee and sesame oil, which are recommended when frying. Olive oil is good, but only at temperatures lower than 180 degrees F, as fumes emitted from cooking olive oils can potentially be carcinogenic; plus, the oil is easily damaged by high heat.
Beneficial Nutrients in Okra and What They Can Do for You
Okra, aka Abelmoschus esculentus, a rather forgotten garden vegetable, provides a number of valuable nutrients, including fiber. Several of the most prominent of them must be obtained through food, and if you don't get enough of them, a deficiency can seriously compromise your health. Five of the most beneficial include:12
• Potassium — A mineral as well as an electrolyte, meaning it conducts electrical impulses through your body, potassium helps normalize your muscle contractions, heart rhythm, blood pressure, digestion, pH balance and more. Because your body doesn't produce it, you must obtain an optimal amount of foods containing it, while making sure it balances your sodium intake.
• Folate — One of several B vitamins, this one produces red blood cells and both makes and repairs your DNA, and a deficiency can lead to anemia, depriving your cells of oxygen. One of its most crucial functions is for pregnant women as it's involved with preventing birth defects.
Note: Although many people interchange them, do not confuse folate, which occurs naturally in foods, with folic acid, which is a synthetic form of vitamin B9 used as a supplement and an additive to processed foods.
• Calcium — Stored in your bones, it works with vitamin D to ensure your body absorbs it properly to avoid brittle, prone-to-break bones. It also works with vitamin K2 to keep calcium from settling in areas it shouldn't be, such as your arteries and soft tissues, and directing it to where it should be, like your bones and teeth.
• Vitamin K — A fat-soluble vitamin that plays critical roles in protecting your heart, building your bones, optimizing your insulin levels and helping your blood to clot properly, vitamin K can help prevent heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, multiple types of cancer and even Alzheimer's disease.
• Vitamin C — This powerful antioxidant lessens both the duration and severity of a cold and is necessary to produce collagen, the most abundant protein in mammals, which keeps your skin and tissues firm but flexible. A “C” deficiency weakens your immune system and is infamously known for causing the sailor's dread: scurvy.”
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Read More … Article Source: https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2018/09/17/okra-health-benefits.aspx
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